Happy Homecoming

File Photo.

COLUMBIA --- ONE OF MISSOURI'S favorite sons was back in Columbia on Saturday.

It doesn't matter that he grew up in Texas. We're claiming him.

Record-breaking Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel --- who was on hand for the annual Black and Gold spring game --- has come "home" again after signing a recent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"It feels good, it feels really good, just to be back here in God's country," Daniel said with a smile. "I'm settling in. It was a great move for me, both professionally and personally.

"We're ready to win some games."

This will be Daniel's fifth year in the NFL, the first four coming with the New Orleans Saints. This stint with the Saints was a good news/bad news deal for Daniel.

The good ... he has a career completion percentage of 78 percent. But he's only attempted nine passes, 7-of-9 --- although he did serve as the holder on field goals and extra points in 46 games. And the REALLY good news is that he was a part of the Saints' Super Bowl championship team in 2010.

The bad ... Daniel was stuck behind Drew Brees, one of the top-five quarterbacks in the league. And Brees is very durable.

This meant Daniel had a good seat to watch the games, but nothing more. Still, he apparently learned his lessons well.

"I learned everything from Drew," Daniel said. "How to eat, live and sleep like a quarterback in the NFL, on and off the field.
"That was probably one of the hardest parts about leaving there, our friendship. We had a really good relationship."

Now, Daniel will be the back-up for the much more fragile Alex Smith, who also joined the Chiefs during the offseason after time spent in San Francisco.

"I'm always going to be ready, that's the back-up quarterback's job," Daniel said. "You're always going to be one play away. You have to be ready, both mentally and physically.

"Alex is a great guy and a great player, I'm really impressed by him. I think he's got a little chip on his shoulder after last year, so it should be fun to see how it plays out."

After suffering a concussion last fall against the St. Louis Rams, Smith lost his starting job to Colin Kapernick, who promptly led the Niners to the Super Bowl --- even though Smith returned to health.

Thus, the chip.

In addition, the Chiefs have a have new head coach in Andy Reid, a proven winner during his 14 years with the Philadelphia Eagles.

But Reid had a brutal year in 2012 --- and much more brutal than just the team's 4-12 record. His oldest son, Garrett, died of an herion overdose during the team's summer camp last August.

"Coach Reid is great, I love him," Daniel said. "He's got the swagger and the confidence, and I can tell he's re-energized from last year. He had a really tough year, both professionally and personally.

"But he's ready to go. He's installing everything and it's fun learning from him."

On a different level, Daniel's 2012 season was no fun, either. Enter Bounty Gate, exit head coach Sean Payton.

"Without a doubt, that was my toughest year in football," Daniel said. "Being without your leader, being without your coach, it was tough ... it was really hard.

"But we got through it, we pushed on."

One of the Saints' losses was to the Chiefs. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em? Mmmm, not really.

The Chiefs were a dreadful 2-14 last season. But with a new year comes new optimism, spurned by two new quarterbacks, a proven head coach and the No. 1 overall draft pick.

"We just need to believe in ourselves and win some games," Daniel said. "Ultimately, that's what we have to do, win some games.

"The fans in Kansas City are hungry and yearning for some wins, so we're going to try and give them that."


AS FOR SATURDAY'S Black and Gold game, there was certainly some "Game-Day" feel.

Marching Mizzou was on hand, along with the Golden Girls, cheerleaders and a bunch of tailgaters.

That was it for that "Game-Day" feel, however, as spring football games --- more than four months removed from the start of the season --- mean less than a politician's campaign promise.

The one million dollar question entering Saturday was who would be the starting quarterback when the Tigers open the season Aug. 31 at home against Murray State.

The answer isn't worth 5 cents, as Saturday solved nothing. In fact, coach Gary Pinkel was playing with his grandkids as this "game" was being played.

In any event, here is Pinkel's answer to the obvious QB question.

"It will sort itself out going into August," Pinkel said. "So much is about the work ethic, not just at quarterback, but the entire team at every position."

For what it's worth, here are Saturday's QB numbers for the top three in the running for the starting spot:

* James Franklin, senior --- 9-of-15, 80 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.

* Matty Mauk, redshirt freshman --- 6-of-17, 72 yards, 0 TDs, 2 Ints.

* and Corbin Berkstresser, sophomore --- 9-of-18, 92 yards, 0 TDs, 2 Ints.

In front of a gathering of about 4,000 fans --- one report said more than 18,000 (laugh here) --- the teams combined to rush for 157 yards on 39 carries. Rushing touchdowns were scored by Marcus Murphy (5 yards), Andrew Stevens (3) and Henry Josey (1). Dorial Green-Beckham had three catches for 49 yards, while Marcus Lucas had a game-high five catches for 33 yards.

Defensively, Michael Sam had four total tackles and two sacks for minus-12 yards, while Xavier Smith, Matt Hoch, John Gibson and David Johnson had interceptions.

"I told our football team that starting in January and until August, we only get 15 days with them on the football field," Pinkel said. "So the work they have to put in to improve their fundamentals, that has to be done with extra work.

"We'll see where it goes."

In short, Saturday meant nothing. We'll see you Aug. 31 when it does.

Have a great summer, Tiger fans.